A Night of Ups and Downs

20 Apr

The other night in the midst of making dinner, I peeked out the door to see my three sons playing happily together on the sidewalk in front of our house. The activity they were engaged in seemed to be some version of Limbo, and my quick glance out the door detected harmony, cooperation and smiling faces. This was a tiny miracle unto itself.  Usually when my three sons are engaged in some joint activity involving large sticks, the outcome involves bodily harm, dramatic wailing, forceful (if not entirely believable) accusations wildly flying in every direction… followed by my version of an Inquisition that makes the Spaniards look like a bunch of amateurs.  However this special night, mysterious winds from Planet Peace must have been blowing through my neighborhood, because only brotherly love prevailed.  

I happily, if not a bit smugly, headed back to the kitchen, taking stock of my good fortune: Despite the fact that my husband was working late, I was in a good mood (traslation: NOT self-medicating with the latest edition of People magazine and a bowl of brownie batter).  I was also  somehow managing to pull off a clean house, a homemade dinner consisting of 3 food groups (including an actual GREEN vegetable)… AND the boys were getting along?! This was turning out to be some kind of magical evening indeed! When the food was nearly ready, I could just make out the the sound of the garage door over the thrumming of the clothesdryer and I marveled at how “in sync” my boys and I were… “They are headed inside before I even call them for dinner!” I thought to myself… However after a few minutes when no one had entered the house, I went to go to the door to beckon them.

In the garage I was met by my oldest son wearing a worried look on his face. “Uh… Mom… the garage door won’t go down…” I pressed the button but only heard faint, ineffective clicking and humming noises emanating from the unit mounted to the ceiling. “That’s strange…” I said out loud, repeatedly pushing the button but getting no response. I glanced at my son, who now had beads of sweat dotting his brow and who seemed to also have developed a nervous twitch under his left eye. “All right, what happened?” I asked, bracing myself for a response that was bound to ruin an otherwise perfect evening… “Well… we were… we… were… sort of …riding the garage door up and down and it … sort of… stopped working…”

Preternaturally calm, I paused to take in one more deep breath– filling my lungs with the dying breezes of Planet Peace– before assessing the situation and determining the most prudent response. I calmly concluded that if they were misbehaving while I was trying to get dinner on the table, then they would have to forego dinner that night, and let their hunger pangs remind them of their misdeeds until their father got home to really read them the riot act. Heads hung low, they marched to their rooms, apparently too weak from hunger and wracked with guilt to protest. I called my husband and told him the news, holding the phone a few inches from my ear in anticipation of an aggravated, blustery response…

“Oh. Geez. Well… I’ll call the home warranty company and get the garage door people out tomorrow”  was all he said.  

As luck would have it, the garage door people couldn’t actually make it out for another few days… As I tolerated the inconvenience of parking on the driveway during a month of March mini-heatwave, I couldn’t help but feel a bit proud that my husband and I – both prone to yelling—had handled the incident so calmly and not made a bigger deal of it. 

But truth be told, I found myself feeling another feeling I never would have imagined. I kinda found the whole thing to be, well, sorta funny. Those damned boys… riding the garage door up and down…  I pictured them hanging on with bent arms and legs, silhouettes dangling there like those little plastic monkeys in a barrel… til they fell off… or til they let go… or til I called them in for dinner…  or til the capacitor on the garage door opener burned out…


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